Recently retired and ready to spread their wings, Len and Faith Todd wanted to do more with their time than just wait for the grandkids to stack up—though, with 4 already, 1 on the way and “hopefully more after that,” they had plenty of practice. Avid travelers, they purchased a toy hauler with the expressed purpose of doing some snowmobiling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But another motivation waited, unexpressed, in one of their hearts. Tour Alaska. The trip of a lifetime. They waited three years and then, in late June of 2009, the trip of a lifetime began.
Traveling cross-country to explore Alaska was a lifelong dream. Not mine mind you, but marriage is about compromise and hey, two breathtaking months experiencing the unmatched beauty of Alaska is my kind of compromise. My name is Faith Todd, and believe me, if you are looking for adventure and overwhelming beauty, Alaska over the open road delivers with all the flying colors of the rainbow.
We had the toy hauler for around three years before we hooked it up for the trip that, I am now certain, it was purchased for. Ready to get our retirement off to a grand start, my husband Len and I began planning the trip that would create for us countless memories that would last a lifetime.
It began innocently enough… a few random and unrelated comments here and there. Sooner than later, those comments began to string themselves together until I realized that Len wasn’t just daydreaming. We were going to Alaska. Soon. We started talking about dates, but, like I said before, this was his “of a lifetime,” so I let him plot the course. There were a few stops I was determined to make but, aside from that, this was his rodeo. So I let him ride the bull.
We began with attractions along the way that just had to make the photo album—the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore—and then began deciding on places we would visit when we crossed the state line. Denali National Park was at the top of the list.
From there we decided some of the things we wanted to do. Len was intent on casting flies in the legendary Alaskan rivers. I wanted to go whale watching and eat some—very—fresh salmon.
It helped in planning that Len has family who lives in Alaska. His cousin suggested The MILEPOST. Let me tell you—if you are planning a trip to the 49th state in our Union, bring The MILEPOST. Read it. Study it. Then read it again. This guide is indispensable—especially for those of us who like to roll into town, tap into the WiFi and see what’s shakin’. Don’t plan on doing a lot of that in Alaska. Internet, in most places, is apparently a luxury. The MILEPOST quickly becomes your go-to source for both what to do and how to get there. Check out the milepost here.
A couple months studying The MILEPOST, and we were ready to hook up the hauler and begin our journey. But first, we had to deal with a certain poor Dude who had a small parasite problem.
I say small—but size is relative, really, and… Dude. Is. Not. Small. He is 135 pounds of galloping, gregarious German Shepherd and, as we prepared to leave for the first leg of our trip, Dude was a puppy with a problem. So, the first leg of our Alaska Tour began with a DE-tour to the vet. Dude was diagnosed, treated, medicated, and advised not to take any two-month trips into the last Great American Frontier.
Instead, Dude stayed with “Grandma” Betty. We had made the hard call to leave him behind just a couple weeks before take-off. This sealed the deal.
Dude may have had the time of his life romping around the Alaskan wilderness, but a person-sized German Shepherd definitely turns company into a crowd when you put him in a 21 foot toy hauler. Besides, I have no doubt that Dude enjoyed staying with “Grandma.”
Dude’s little infestation was only the first of many signs to come—this trip was NOT going to be a vacation. Alaska was going to be an adventure!
BLOG – June 30th, 2009
Left GR at 1:30 p.m. Had hoped to leave at 10 a.m., but Dude (the dog) got sick and we had to take him to the vet. Earliest we could get in to see vet was noon. Dude came back from the vet’s office with a bunch of meds, and we were off and running. Left Dude with Grandma Betty as originally planned.
We had some running lights problems with the trailer when it started to get dark, but, “MacGyver” Len fixed the problem. Then, we ran out of gas, but fortunately Len had some gas in a gas can in the trailer and we made it to the gas station. We drove till midnight (10 1/2 hrs!) and finally had to crash at a rest area. We woke up in the morning to realize that we were just outside Onalaska, WI in Juneau County, WI. Kinda weird.
We drove 444 miles on our first day.
Posted by Faith Todd at 7:00 AM